The Hill-Gilder is a new piece of sports equipment that allows you to surf down grassy hills, created Billy Sullivan, an Ontario-based inventor from St. John’s.
The Hill-Gilder has a skateboard-like deck with a large wheel in the center, flanked by three smaller wheels. A handbrake tethered to the board lets you regulate your speed as you fly down hills, and the large wheel in the centre makes it possible to pull off quick, precise turns.
“For me the optimum hill is about five storeys high. So your local toboggan hill or park hill, they’re just enough of a ride down to make it worth the walk up. In St. John’s, I was looking at that hill right in front of Confederation building,” Sullivan said.
Hill-Gilders are for sale online and are rapidly gaining popularity, Sullivan has been contacted by Redbull, who are interested in collaborating on an event. With several exciting opportunities opening up, Sullivan is scouting for talented riders from all over the country who can demonstrate how the Hill-Gilder works.
“We’re looking for demo-riders, people who are really, really good. We’re starting a new sport, so the more we can show the possibilities of [the Hill-Gilder]in different locations the better it is for us as a business,” Sullivan explained.
Sullivan’s nephew is currently in St. John’s recruiting skilled riders. He will be in town for another month, taking people out, showing them how to use the board and seeing who has a knack for the sport. Sullivan says anyone who thinks they might have what it takes to be a demo-rider can get in touch through the Hill-Gilder website.
“Snowboarders get it. When we’re out testing it we’re constantly getting approached by people, we’ve had people slam on their brakes and come running down the hill to ask about it … When snowboarders ask to try it I’m always amazed because they get it in one try,” Sullivan explained.
Sullivan has been approached by several ski-hills that are interested in the sport. While he does think the Hill-Gilder has a future on the slopes, he envisions it starting out as more of an urban sport, like skateboarding.
The Hill-Gilder has the speed that makes skateboarding appealing but it’s less dangerous because if you wipe out, you’re landing on grass instead of cement. Sullivan points out that because the Hill-Glider lends itself to use in parks as opposed to out on the street, there’s also less risk of being hit by a car while using it.
“It’s giving you something new to do that’s healthy and fun and it’s not in the street it’s taking you into the parks, into the grassy areas … you get a rush out of the ride down, and from improving your skill sets, and chasing each other, and then the walk up is actually a really good cardiovascular workout.”